Since we set our clocks back last night to Pacific Standard Time, I figured I should write something about the Getty sponsored arts project, Pacific Standard Time. It celebrates art in L.A. during the years 1945-1980. There are three museums in San Diego participating in this very large regional project–Mingei International Museum and the two locations of Museum of Contemporary Art San Diego.
I’ve seen the exhibit in the La Jolla location of MOCA. Lots of lighted geometric shapes and one really eerie room without light, Eric Orr, Zero Mass. Zero Mass requires a guide, or at least someone at the entrance to this black room to tell you how to navigate–put your left hand on the black paper wall and follow it around. And, when you get somewhere inside, stand there and your eyes might adjust to the blackness. It was totally disorienting. I couldn’t tell if I was walking in a straight line, if I’d ever get out. After about five minutes of stumbling along, I did see the very dim silhouettes of three other people in the room, but only after hearing them talk. It was worse than being trapped underground in a English cave with a bunch of other tourists when the electric lights failed and we had to be led out by the guide with a flashlight.
Zero Mass was all the more black because I had just stuck my head in Bruce Nauman’s Green Light Corridor. It is a long, narrow, high walled corridor of green fluorescent lights. If you are very skinny, you can walk through it. But, even though I thought that would be a fun walk, I just put my head in for thirty seconds and spent the next five minutes seeing after-images and blinking a lot. That might be the best way to prepare for Zero Mass.
Sculptures of acrylic, neon, and geometric illusions were interesting. But the La Jolla museum itself provided the best use of light and illusion. The blue Pacific is visible from the windowed walls and the ocean and palm trees have color filtered through the glass. But there is one corner turn in the windows with a cut out square without glass. Through that, the ocean, sky, and trees have a different color and intensity. That is worth the price of admission.
San Diego’s coast just had a red tide–an expanse of algae which is a dark reddish color during the day and smells like seaweed a good way from the shore. It contains bio-luminescent organisms. The organisms emit a blue light in response to motion. So at night, the waves fluoresce. It is forbidden to take pictures in the museum so I couldn’t take pictures of the MOCA lights but I did get a lot of black pictures of the red tide waves, with boat lights in the background. Not sure what this is a picture of, light of some kind on the ocean at night.